WordPress powers more than one in four websites you stumble upon on the internet, and that’s because it’s one of the easiest and most popular ways to create a website.
Technically speaking, WordPress is an open-source content management system. But what is a content management system? Well, as the name suggests, it’s a tool that allows you to manage various important aspects of your website without having to learn how to code. That’s the beauty of WordPress – you don’t have to be a developer to use it. And since it’s open-source and licensed under GPLv2, anyone can use it and customize it for free. Since it’s so popular, it has an impressive community of contributors.
It’s original creators were Matt Mullenweg, who has now become the face and voice of WordPress, and Mike Little. Matt Mullenweg is also the founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. There is a WordPress.org and a WordPress.com, and we’ll explain the differences later in the article.
WordPress started out as a platform used mostly for blogs but, with the help of its army of contributors and ever-growing community, it has become popular with any kind of website.
What Kind of Websites Can I Make With WordPress?
As we said, WordPress started as a blog platform, but nowadays, it’s a much more versatile tool. You can find a lot of themes and plugins so you can use it to create any kind of website you like.
It’s still used by many bloggers and has become particularly popular among people who want to create online stores and businesses looking to increase their sales by boosting their online presence.
And don’t imagine that WordPress is only used by small businesses. Microsoft, for example, uses it to power its official blog, as well as the blogs for specific products like Skype and Windows. Even the official Whitehouse.gov website is also powered by this popular tool.
WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
We mentioned that there are two platforms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the free, open-source WordPress software, often referred to as the self-hosted WordPress. Most of the time, when people talk about WordPress, they mean this version.
You can use it for free, but you have to pay for your own web hosting and domain name. The most obvious advantage is that it’s free, but it also gives you complete control in terms of customization. On the other hand, you also have more responsibilities, like managing security. To learn more, you can check out some WordPress tips for beginners.
WordPress.com is the paid WordPress. It also has a free version, but it doesn’t allow you to upload custom themes and plugins. If you get the paid version of WordPress.com, you get a lot of customization options, and you also don’t have to worry about the responsibilities you’d have with WordPress.org.
Benefits of Using WordPress
So why is WordPress so popular that so many websites use it, including big companies like Microsoft?
Well, first of all, and we cannot say this enough, it’s free! You have to pay for the hosting, but you’ll never be charged for using the software. Not only that, but you also get a ton of customization options for free. You can choose between more than 5,000 free themes and 50,000 free plugins. Just to clarify, the themes are used to change the way your website looks, and the plugins change functions. These functions can be something small like adding a contact form or much more substantial, as is the case for online stores.
This also means that you’re never stuck with a particular set of functions. Your website can grow and evolve with you. For instance, let’s say you created a website with WordPress, and now you want to add a forum. No problem. There’s a plugin for that. What about a social network? There’s a plugin for that as well. And keep in mind that this library of themes and plugins is always expanding since WordPress is open source and extremely popular.
Furthermore, WordPress is very easy to install and use. You don’t have to be particularly tech-savvy or pay someone who is. If you ever get stuck on a problem, it only takes a few clicks to find a solution since there are many tutorials, blogs, and forums you can turn to. Anyway, these days most web hosts will either give you tools to make the installation process as convenient and beginner-friendly as possible, or they’ll offer to install it for you.
How to Get Started
No matter how many times we tell you that it’s easy, there’s a good chance you still feel a little bit intimidated because it’s something you’ve never done before.
To get started creating your dream website, you first have to choose a WordPress plan. We mentioned before that there’s a paid and free version.
Then, depending on what you chose, you have to choose a hosting provider and set up a domain name for your website. Just to clarify, the hosting provider gives you a space on a server where you can store your website. It’s essentially where your website lives. The hosting provider, as the name suggests, “hosts” your website.
The domain name is the address to that place and what your visitors have to type into their browser’s address bar to find your website.
Once this is taken care of, you need to actually install WordPress CMS to link your chosen domain name to your website. This process depends on what hosting provider you chose, but it’s generally pretty straightforward. You’ll get a few questions regarding your admin information and in which directory you want to install WordPress, and after about 24 hours, you’ll get a confirmation.
Next step is to choose your primary domain, which is what visitors will see when they type in your website address.
After this, it’s time to make your website look nice. There are lots of themes and templates you’ll probably want to spend some time looking through. You can customize them with options such as colors, fonts, and formatting styles. The default theme is rather plain. You can keep it, but most people like to customize. If the sheer amount is overwhelming, there are lots of websites listing the top themes and templates depending on your website’s purpose. Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can move on to content.
There! You’ve taken your first steps, and you’re on your way!